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Manchester’s AO Arena to undergo £50m revamp

ASM Global has announced a £50 million plan to transform Manchester’s AO Arena.

The three-year phased development, which will begin this summer, will dramatically enhance the 21,000-cap venue, expanding its infrastructure while adding innovative guest features. Further details will be released in the coming months.

The 27-year-old arena has a string of sell-out concerts lined up for 2022, including Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa, Diana Ross, Alicia Keys, Swedish House Mafia, Snoop Dogg and George Ezra.

“The first phase will enhance and increase our standing floor capacity”

“AO Arena is one of the world’s iconic venues and a much-loved part of Manchester’s rich culture and history,” says Chris Bray, EVP Europe at ASM Global. “It has been delivering world class entertainment experiences for over two decades. As we approach our 30th anniversary, this ambitious endeavour will not only reinforce its position as a leading destination for live entertainment but will extend its market leadership for ‘live’ and fan experiences for the next 30 years, and we’re proud to be further investing into the heart of Manchester.

“The first phase will enhance and increase our standing floor capacity to share this historic arena with even more of our guests and we will also be adding new hospitality lounges and investing in delivering an upgraded concourse experience. Our performers will be immersed in an all-new back of house artists campus, unparalleled anywhere.”

Additional major developments will include brand-new arena entrances, specially tailored premium experiences, custom designed lounges, and new premium seating.

“This will not only elevate the experience for guests and fans, but for everyone who sets foot in the venue”

AO Arena’s back of house will also be upgraded with a complete overhaul of the backstage experience, including new artist dressing rooms and production areas, a “world-class” green room with meet and greet facilities, an overhaul of crew catering, and first-class connectivity and technology.

“This is a really exciting time for the AO Arena,” adds recently appointed general manager Jen Mitchell. “Not only are we able to welcome guests back after a challenging two years, with a programme packed full of world-class acts and entertainment; now we can reveal the first phase of ASM Global’s plans for the arena’s redevelopment. This will not only elevate the experience for guests and fans, but for everyone who sets foot in the venue, including artists, production, crew and our staff who work so hard to make the magic happen right here in Manchester.”

AO Arena is set to face competition in the city from Oak View Group’s new east Manchester development Co-op Live, which is scheduled to open in 2023.


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Manchester Arena attack: Inquiry publishes first report

There were multiple “missed opportunities” to prevent or minimise the impact of the Manchester Arena bombing May 2017, the public investigation into the attack has found.

The Manchester Arena Inquiry, led by chairman Sir John Saunders, today (17 June) published the first of three reports about the terror attack, which killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert on 22 May 2017. The report, which looks into security arrangements at the arena on the night of the bombing, concludes that bomber Salman Abedi should have been identified as a threat on the night of the attack.

In his 204-page report, Sir John found a number of security failures that he says would have reduced the impact of the bombing, if not prevented it completely. The “most striking missed opportunity”, the report details, came from a member of the public, who raised concerns to stewards about Abedi’s suspicious behaviour in the run-up to the attack.

Although the stewards, Mohammed Agha and Kyle Lawler, took steps to investigate the man’s concerns, with Lawler stating that he thought “there was something wrong” with Abedi’s behaviour and trying to get through to a superior on the radio, his efforts were ‘inadequate’, says Sir John.

While approach by a steward or BTP officer may have caused Abedi to detonate his device, “it is likely that fewer people would have been killed” than were on 22 May, says Sir John. (Abedi ultimately set off his bomb as fans were leaving the show.)

Other failings identified by the inquiry include the lack of British Transport Police (BTP) officers in the arena’s foyer, for which there was “no satisfactory explanation”; a CCTV blind spot near the arena’s City room that allowed Abedi to hide from security cameras; and inadequate counter-terrorism training given the stewards.

Sir John additionally found that after the Paris attack of November 2017, the arena’s operator, SMG, should have “sought to push the security perimeter out, beyond the City room” to make “hostile reconnaissance” of the arena (now called AO Arena) more difficult for Abedi.

“We are carefully reviewing the findings outlined in volume one of the Manchester Arena Inquiry report”

Among Sir John’s recommendations are passing ‘protect duty’ legislation (sometimes called ‘Martyn’s law’, after one of the victims) for large venues such as arenas which would require them to consider terrorist threats and implement further protective security and preparations.

The public inquiry was set up in September 2020 to examine the circumstances leading up to and surrounding the bombing, and followed an earlier review headed by Lord Kerslake whose findings were published in March 2018. Though part one of Manchester Arena Inquiry says it holds BTP, SMG and security provider Showsec, “principally responsible for the missed opportunities”, the Kerslake report found that SMG and Showsec’s response to the attack went “above and beyond” the call of duty.

In a statement, SMG (now part of ASM Global), says that while security around live shows, and at Manchester Arena particularly, has “changed dramatically” since the 2017 attack, the company will take on board Sir John’s recommendations after having reviewed the full report in detail.

The statement reads: “On 22 May 2017, 22 innocent people tragically lost their lives and many others were injured when a terrorist detonated a bomb. The attack shocked the nation and the devastating impact was felt far beyond the city of Manchester.

“The impact was also felt across the industry and the environment in which we all operated changed dramatically that evening.

“Since the inquiry began, questions have been asked of SMG and others about the security operations in place that evening. Throughout, we’ve been committed to working with the inquiry to help the families of victims and survivors better understand the events of that evening, as well as look at the lessons learnt.

”During the inquiry process, the experts stated that they did not see evidence that the security operation in place at Manchester Arena was out of step with the operations being used at other comparable venues. In fact, the standards that we adopted were in line with published industry guidance at the time. However, this doesn’t give us any comfort. Our guests came to the arena to enjoy a show but were met with a horrific tragedy. For that we are truly sorry.

”All of us at Manchester Arena have learnt a lot since the events of that night and our security measures continue to evolve to reflect the threats we face today. Since the attack, we have further extended the security perimeter, adopted a more intensive approach to checking and searching including the use of walk through metal detectors and installed a new CCTV and access control system.

”All of us at Manchester Arena have learnt a lot since the events of that night”

“However, out of respect for those who tragically lost their lives on 22 May 2017, and those whose lives changed forever, we can never be satisfied that we have done enough. To that end, we will be reviewing the report findings in detail and the recommendations that have been put forward. Any additional actions we should take, we will take as we continuously challenge ourselves to be better.

“Finally, we share the chair’s admiration for those who responded so selflessly and heroically to this atrocity.”

“The chairman, Sir John Saunders, and the inquiry legal team have put an enormous amount of work and effort into this important public inquiry,” reads a statement from Showsec. “Showsec has learnt lessons from the terrible events of 22 May 2017 and, as the chairman has acknowledged, Showsec improvements are already in place.

“Having been provided with the first volume of the report, Showsec will take some time to consider both Sir John’s criticisms and his recommendations before responding as he has requested. As always, the families are at the forefront of our minds.”

Lucy D’Orsi, chief constable of the BTP, comments: “We are carefully reviewing the findings outlined in volume one of the Manchester Arena Inquiry report today.

“I would like to reassure everyone that British Transport Police, as you would expect, has been reviewing procedures, operational planning and training since this dreadful attack took place in 2017. We continue to work closely with our emergency service colleagues, Greater Manchester Police and other experts to strengthen our multi-agency preparedness for major incidents. We are committed to ensuring our staff are supported and prepared to undertake the roles they are required to do.

“We will never forget that 22 people tragically lost their lives following the truly evil actions of the attacker and many received life changing injuries . They continue to be at the forefront of our thoughts as are their loved ones and all those affected by this dreadful attack.”


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OVG given green light for new Manchester arena

Oak View Group (OVG) has been given the go-ahead to build a new 23,500-capacity arena on the Etihad Campus, the site of Manchester City FC’s Etihad Stadium in Eastlands, in east Manchester.

The new arena will be the UK’s largest venue and will rival the ASM Global-operated AO Arena (cap. 21,000), located in Manchester city centre.

Proposals for the new venue, which will bring £350 million in private investment to the city, were submitted in March following consultation with the local community and have now been approved by Manchester City Council.

Tim Leiweke, OVG’s co-founder and chief executive, said: “We’re delighted that Manchester City Council has given our proposals the go-ahead, and we can’t wait to get started, bringing a £350million private investment, creating thousands of jobs, and delivering one of the world’s best arenas to this amazing city.”

“I want to say a huge thank you to the community for taking the time to listen to what we had to say and providing feedback that ensured this arena is of Manchester, for Manchester and by Manchester.”

Councillor Pat Karney, city centre spokesperson, said: “Today’s decision is about confidence in our city, Greater Manchester and the North West. It is about new employment and training opportunities for thousands across East Manchester and beyond at a time when they are badly needed.

“Today’s decision is about new employment and training opportunities at a time when they are badly needed”

“The city centre, our communities and the wider city will be strengthened by our newest neighbour – Oak View Group Manchester. This is the next chapter in East Manchester’s regeneration.”

In June, ASM Global submitted a formal objection to the plans, alleging again that a second large entertainment venue in the city is unsustainable and would have a negative affect on Manchester’s economy.

ASM released a statement regarding today’s decision, saying it is “wholly disappointed”.

“This decision will have a significantly adverse impact for our existing arena, and the wider city centre businesses and attractions it supports,” the statement reads.

“Clear evidence has been presented on multiple occasions that demonstrates the application for an Eastlands Arena relies on flawed research, impossible market projections, is in defiance of national and local policy, and does not align with the adopted Core Strategy to support sustainable growth in the city.”

Construction is expected to commence in November, bringing 3,350 jobs during a three-year construction phase. The arena will create a further 1,000 jobs when the arena opens, which is projected to happen in 2023.


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Manchester Arena renamed the AO Arena

Manchester Arena (cap. 21,000) has been renamed the AO Arena, after announcing a five-year sponsorship deal with the Bolton-based online electricals retailer.

The announcement comes as operators ASM Global submit a planning application for the arena’s redevelopment which will aim to improve visitor experience, transport access and sustainability.

James Allen, general manager of the AO Arena commented on the news: “We are thrilled to have secured this partnership and we look forward to a dynamic relationship with this exciting brand.

“Marking our 25th anniversary with redevelopment plans and our new partnership with AO highlights our commitment to the future of this venue”

“Marking our 25th anniversary with redevelopment plans and our new partnership with AO highlights our commitment to the future of this venue in the heart of Manchester. And after such a long period of pause, we look forward to being able to press play and welcome fans back to the AO Arena.”

AO founder and CEO, John Roberts commented on the announcement; “The Arena holds a special place in the hearts of so many people in Manchester so we’re hugely proud to add the AO smile, especially after such an emotional and difficult period. Our home is firmly in the North West, something we’ve never forgotten while building the business into a global destination for electricals.”

The newly rebranded arena was revealed yesterday (2 September), marking the arena’s first naming rights sponsor since 2014.


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Manchester Arena celebrates 25th year with virtual show

A virtual charity concert will be aired later this month to mark the 25th anniversary of the 21,000-capacity Manchester Arena, the largest indoor arena in the UK.

Taking place on Friday 17 July from 8 p.m., the pre-recorded event will feature Lionel Richie, Alice Cooper, Tim Burgess, Emeli Sandé and the Hoosiers, and will be broadcast across the arena’s social media channels to celebrate reaching the quarter-century milestone.

The event, which is organised in conjunction with Future Agency, will also raise money for local organisations including homeless shelter the Booth Centre, cancer treatment specialist the Christie and community-focused charity Forever Manchester, as well as music therapy charity Nordoff Robbins.

“Our 25th anniversary celebrations were set to be very special indeed”

Each charity will receive 25% of the money raised. Donations can be made here.

“Our 25th anniversary celebrations were set to be very special indeed,” says James Allen general manager of the ASM Global-operated arena.

“However during this period of pause, we have adapted the format to ensure that we can deliver an evening of top quality entertainment to your home, so everyone can enjoy the celebrations without leaving the house.”

Since opening in 1995, Manchester Arena has hosted acts including Beyonce, Chris Rock, U2, Kylie Minogue, Take That, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson and The Rolling Stones.


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OVG hits back as ASM formally objects to new MCR arena

ASM Global, operator of the UK’s Manchester Arena, has submitted a formal objection to plans for a new 23,500-capacity arena in Manchester, alleging again that a second large entertainment venue in the city is unsustainable and would have a negative affect on Manchester’s economy.

The objection by ASM (formerly SMG Europe) follows the filing of a planning application by Oak View Group (OVG), the company behind the £350 million project, which was officially unveiled earlier this year following a six-month feasibility study by OVG.

If approved, the new venue – located on the Etihad Campus, the site of Manchester City FC’s Etihad Stadium in Eastlands, in east Manchester – would be, by some way, the largest indoor arena in the UK, and go head to head with the 21,000-capacity Manchester Arena in Manchester city centre. The planning application also includes plans for a 180,000+ sqft food and beverage/retail space.

Citing independent analysis by consulting firm Charles River Associates, ASM claims to have uncovered “significant flaws in the evidence supporting the planning application” that raises “legitimate concerns” about the impact the new venue would have on Manchester Arena and other city-centre businesses.

Among other points, ASM – which is supported by several other city-centre businesses, including the Arndale shopping centre and venue owner Living Ventures – says OVG’s market projections are over-optimistic and at odds with historical data; that public-transport infrastructure would be unable to cope with increased football; and that Manchester, despite being a one-arena city, is already well-served by major live entertainment venues.

“A new venue, with world-leading technology, would help to grow the overall entertainment market within Manchester”

A new mini-site, together.manchester-arena.com, serves as a hub for Manchester Arena/ASM Global’s objections to the new arena.

“We have clear reasons for opposing a new arena in Eastlands, and have never shied away from making our voice heard. We firmly believe that this planning application presents a very real threat to not only our venue and transformative redevelopment plans, but to our neighbouring hotels, bars, restaurants and stores, at what is an already fragile time,” reads a statement from ASM, which also commissioned a separate study that concludes a second arena would “shatter” Manchester city centre’s economy.

“Independent analysis clearly demonstrates there is no demand for a second major venue in Manchester. To introduce another would risk running the other out of business, taking with it the visitors and spend it positively contributes to surrounding businesses. Analysis from leading consultants demonstrates the astounding nature of the market projections included within the planning application – projections which rely on cherrypicked data and ignore historical growth.

“We ask that this application receives proper scrutiny, and takes into consideration the concerns of local people and business, especially given the risks it poses to Manchester’s culture, economy and environment.”

Oak View Group, unsurprisingly, disputes allegations of cherrypicking data, and is also wielding economic analysis of its own, in the form of an economic impact assessment by PWC and Ekosgen which concludes the new arena would contribute up to £1.5 billion of new economic activity over the 20 years from opening (planned for 2023) – and that city-centre businesses would benefit from an estimated 85% of all new arena-related spending.

“There is no demand for a second major venue in Manchester”

Mark Donnelly, COO of OVG International, says Manchester, a European live music capital, is failing to capitalise on its musical heritage, and that a new arena would grow the local market, as has happened in other large cities.

“Manchester is a city with a proud music and sporting history and a huge appetite for live entertainment, but it’s currently losing market share in the national live entertainment industry,” he comments. “A new venue, with world-leading technology, would help to grow the overall entertainment market within Manchester and attract a wider range of larger and more impressive live events to the city.

“Manchester has developed a thriving tourism and entertainment market, and we are completely confident that a new venue at Eastlands would happily co-exist with the current arena, as well as other venues in the city centre and across the region. Economic analysis submitted as part of our application shows that a new arena would bring an additional £36m per year in direct annual local spending and at least £1.3bn of additional economic activity from two arenas over 20 years. City-centre business would account for 85% of visitor expenditure from two arenas, significantly increasing jobs and economic activity compared to the current position.

“We look forward to reviewing the existing arena’s full analysis, as the little released so far seems to paint a negative view of the market, and the city’s position within it, which we and expert industry analysts simply do not recognise. The live entertainment industry is supportive of our proposals, as they foresee ongoing growth in the market post-Covid, with a great opportunity for Manchester to play a leading role in that.”

Andrew Coles, director of real assets at Aviva Investors, which describes itself as “one of the largest investors in Manchester’s built environment”, is supportive of the ASM-led objection, saying further economic assessment is needed before proceeding.

“We are so confident in Manchester’s potential that we are willing to commit £350m investment to the city”

Because of coronavirus, he says, “the situation in the city centre and its businesses is vastly different to what it was at the start of this year”, he says. “‘The basis of the Eastlands arena application was written before the full scale of the economic impact on Manchester was understood. We would urge the relevant authorities to carefully consider how to ensure the vitality and viability of the city centre, which reflects the economic reality on the ground.

“As such, we believe a full retail and leisure impact assessment of a scheme of this size is needed.”

Donnelly, however, says the new arena is just what the city needs to get back on its feet, creating in excess of 3,000 jobs during construction – which could begin later this year, pending approval of the planning application – alone.

“Other major UK cities are thriving with two or more arenas, and we are so confident in Manchester’s potential that we are willing to commit £350 million entirely privately funded investment to the city, creating 3,350 jobs during the construction phase and a further 1,000 once open in 2023,” he concludes.

“We want to partner with businesses and the wider community in Manchester and, following a successful planning process, OVG could be onsite as early as October, beginning to create new construction jobs straight away – vital to help the region recover economically from the current crisis.”


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United We Stream marks anniversary of Manchester Arena attack

The Manchester edition of United We Stream, a fundraising initiative launched in cities worldwide in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, is putting on a special four-hour show to mark the third anniversary of the Manchester Arena bombing.

The show begins at 8 p.m. tonight (22 May), marking three years to the day of the bomb attack that killed 22 people outside the 21,000-capacity arena following an Ariana Grande concert.

The commemorative show, which is organised by Greater Manchester’s night-time economy advisor Sacha Lord, will see Spice girl Melanie C perform a DJ set, promising “some uplifting pop bangers” and “a few cheeky classics from the north west [of England]”. The show will be available to watch on the United We Stream platform.

The Manchester Survivors Choir, made up of almost 100 people who were at the arena on the night of the attack, will also perform as part of the event, joined by former Coronation Street actress Catherine Tydesley.

Thanks to the efforts of United We Stream production team, led by director Colin McKevitt, the choir is able to perform together outdoors at Manchester’s Media City, while adhering to social distancing and infection control guidelines.

“At a time when we are living through another period when we need the city region to come together, we felt it right to pay tribute”

“I know how difficult this week is, not just for the families of the 22 lives that were lost, but also for the many families, NHS, police, paramedics, firefighters, first responders and people who pulled together on the evening of one of Greater Manchester’s worst days,” says Lord.

“I also understand the importance of coming together on this date, remembering those lives and paying tribute to those who risked their lives. At a time when we are living through another period when we need the city region to come together, we felt it right to pay tribute, but also allow residents of the city-region to dance their way through it, safely in their homes.”

Set up by Lord and Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, United We Stream has raised £320,000 for the city’s night-time economy, cultural organisations and chosen local charities.

United We Stream Greater Manchester is live every weekend. Viewers can watch for free and are encouraged to buy a ‘virtual ticket’ for any price they choose. Originally established by Berlin night Tsar Lutz Leichsenring, United We Stream has now launched in Belgrade, Detroit, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Stuttgart and Cologne.

It is normal to experience strong emotional reactions and thoughts ahead of the three year anniversary of the Manchester Arena attack this Friday. If you’re struggling during this time, please remember that help and support is available.

Please contact the Greater Manchester Resilience Hub:
Phone: 0333 009 5071
Email: [email protected]
Website: https://penninecare.nhs.uk/mcrhub
The hub is open Tuesday to Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and until 8 p.m. on Wednesdays.


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OVG’s Manchester arena plans progress amid Covid-19

Venue development company Oak View Group (OVG) has published the planning documents for its new arena in Manchester, which it estimates will bring 750,000 to 1.05 million additional arena ticket sales annually to the city.

OVG today (2 April) announced the appointment of the Royal BAM Group (BAM) as its preferred construction partner, and Populous, the architecture design firm behind Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium, the O2 and Wembley Stadium, as the architect of the new arena.

The progression of the plans for the 23,500-capacity arena, which would be the largest privately financed venue in the UK, with £350 million direct investment going into the city, indicates OVG’s commitment to moving the project forward despite the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

OVG – the global sports and entertainment company founded by Tim Leiweke and Irving Azoff in 2015 – confirmed its plans for the new Manchester arena last month. The venue will go head to head with the existing ASM Global-operated Manchester Arena (21,000-cap.). An ASM Global spokesperson says it is “unfortunate” that the planning application for the new arena has been submitted “at an extremely challenging time for our city”.

“We live in unprecedented times and we stand in solidarity with everyone affected by this disease,” comments Tim Leiweke, co-founder and CEO of OVG. “We obviously have a particular concern for those who work in the live entertainment industry, which is hugely impacted by the current situation. But I know Manchester, and this city has always come back stronger from whatever has hit it. We are 100% committed for the long-haul.

“The city has undergone transformational growth in recent years, but without a new state-of-the-art arena it will continue to lose out to other cities on some of the world’s best events.”

“I know Manchester, and this city has always come back stronger from whatever has hit it”

The design brief for the arena, explains Leiweke, has three main aims – to deliver “the best artist-fan experience of any arena in Europe”, to have the flexibility to accommodate multiple event types, and to be “the most sustainable arena in the UK”.

OVG also states that the arena will generate 3,350 jobs during construction and over 1,000 once opened, paying Manchester Living Wage or higher.

“We’re incredibly grateful for the guidance and feedback from local people and the city’s business community over the last seven months. We are confident the plans we are presenting today are extremely beneficial for the city and will put Manchester on the global entertainment map for decades.”

Leiweke says that studies have indicated Manchester’s capacity to support two successful arenas, “even under the most conservative growth projections”.

The potential saturation of Manchester’s large arena market was discussed at the International Live Music Conference in March. Tom Lynch of ASM Global maintained that comments around Manchester’s capacity for two arenas have been “wildly misunderstood”, whereas OVG’s Brian Kabatznick offered Birmingham as an example of a UK city that “has seen a lot of success with two arenas”.

“Two 20,000-capacity arenas in Manchester are not sustainable and will drive events and footfall to an out of town location”

Birmingham’s Resorts World Arena, which is part of the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) site, last month outlined plans to increase its capacity by a further 6,000 to 21,500.The neighbouring NEC is one of a number of UK venues serving as field hospitals as the country copes with the coronavirus crisis.

“We are carefully reviewing the application documents that have been put forward alongside claims OVG has previously made around the impact to Greater Manchester’s transport, environment and economy,” reads an ASM Global statement.

“Existing independent analysis on market demand from Oxford Economics and Grant Thornton is clear; that two 20,000 capacity arenas in Manchester are not sustainable and will drive events and footfall to an out of town location, with devastating effects to the city centre economy and the region’s air quality.”

According to ASM, where two arenas do exist in the same city – as is the case in London and Birmingham – either one or both of the venues are “significantly smaller” than Manchester Arena.

“We sincerely hope that despite being submitted at a time of national crisis when attention is understandably focused on life saving efforts, this application will still receive proper scrutiny. We would urge the Council to carefully consider whether now is the time to approve plans that will further jeopardise our city centre.

“We need to stand together to protect culture, entertainment and hospitality in the heart of Manchester.”


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Lana Del Rey cancels upcoming European tour

Lana Del Rey has called off upcoming arena dates in the UK, France, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy, in the latest in a series of high-profile acts to see tours hampered by illness.

The Primary Talent-repped singer was set to perform a run of dates starting tomorrow (21 February) at Amsterdam’s Ziggo Dome, and visiting the Accorhotels Arena in Paris, London’s O2 Arena, Manchester Arena, the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Birmingham Resorts World Arena, Berlin’s Mercedes-Benz Arena, before finishing at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne on 3 March. A ninth arena date is set for Italy’s Arena Di Verona in June, which is still going ahead.

The star is also due to make appearances at We Love Green Festival in Paris, Primavera Sound Barcelona and its Portuguese sister event, Nos Primavera Sound Porto in June. Last week, Glastonbury Festival director Emily Eavis announced that Lana Del Rey would also perform on the festival’s Pyramid stage this summer.

“It’s with regret that Lana Del Rey has announced that she has been forced to cancel her entire upcoming EU/UK tour due to illness”

The O2 Arena broke the news earlier this morning (20 February), stating: “It’s with regret that Lana Del Rey has announced that she has been forced to cancel her entire upcoming EU/UK tour due to illness.”

The singer released her own statement, apologising for the cancellation, saying, “Sorry to let everyone down so last minute but this illness has taken me by surprise and have totally lost my singing voice. Dr has advised 4 weeks off for the moment. I hate to let everyone down but I need to get well.”

Fans are advised to contact their original point of purchase for refund enquiries.

Photo: Beatriz Alvani/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0) (cropped)


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The decade in live: 2017

The start of a new year and, perhaps more significantly, a new decade is fast approaching – and while many may be thinking ahead to New Year’s Eve plans and well-meaning 2020 resolutions, IQ is casting its mind back to the most pivotal industry moments of the last ten years.

The memories of a turbulent 2016 were left far behind in 2017, as the concert business enjoyed a record-breaking twelve months, as the year’s gross revenue and number of tickets sold saw 2013 finally knocked off the top spot.

The success of the live business in 2017, however, was somewhat overshadowed by a number of devastating terror attacks, with the Manchester Arena bombing, the shootings at Route 91 Harvest and BPM Festival, the Reina nightclub shooting and other incidents targeting music fans.

In response to the tragedies, the live industry united and made a positive impact, in the form of the One Love Manchester and We are Manchester charity concerts and candlelit vigils and fundraising for victims of the Route 91 Harvest attack.

Elsewhere, the booking agency world continued to consolidate through 2017, with a number of acquisitions, mergers and partnerships while Live Nation welcomed several more promoters, festivals, ticketing agencies and venues to its fast-growing family.


2017 in numbers

The live music business reached new heights in 2017, with the top 100 tours worldwide generating a record US$5.65 billion, up almost 16% from the previous year.

The number of tickets sold throughout the year also saw a notable increase from the year before, climbing 10.4% to 66.8 million, at an average price of almost $4 more per ticket than in 2016, at $84.60.

Eleven tours surpassed the $100m mark in 2017, with U2 topping the year-end charts having generated $316m on their Joshua Tree tour. Guns N’ Roses narrowly missed out on $300m, grossing $292.5m on the Not in this Lifetime tour.

Coldplay came in next, as the band’s A Head Full of Dreams tour made $238m. Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic tour was also successful, grossing just over $200m, whereas Metallica’s WorldWired tour generated $152.8m.

Depeche Mode, Paul McCartney, Ed Sheeran, the Rolling Stones, Garth Brooks and Celine Dion were the other acts whose 2017 tour earnings exceeded $100m.


2017 in brief

A lone gunman attacks New Year’s revellers at the Reina nightclub in Istanbul, resulting in the death of 39 people and injuries to a further 70. Two weeks later, four are killed and 12 injured during a shooting at the BPM Festival in the coastal resort of Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

AM Only and The Windish Agency rebrand as Paradigm Talent Agency, signalling the next phase of their joint ventures, launched in 2012 and 2015, respectively.

Global asset management firm Providence Equity Partners acquires a 70% stake in Sziget Festival and reveals plans to launch eight to ten branded festivals, with James Barton, former president of electronic music for Live Nation, leading the international expansion.

AEG Live finalises negotiations to acquire New York-based promoter/venue operator The Bowery Presents.

Ticketbis, the multinational resale operation acquired by eBay in May 2016, is rebranded as StubHub, bringing to an end the Ticketbis name across Europe, Asia and Latin America.

Live Nation enters the Middle East’s biggest touring market with the acquisition of a majority stake in Bluestone Entertainment, one of Israel’s leading promoters.

Iron Maiden’s decision to use paperless tickets on the UK leg of The Book of Souls arena tour helps reduce the number of tickets appearing on secondary sites by more than 95%, according to promoter Live Nation.

Live Nation acquires a controlling stake in the UK’s Isle of Wight Festival.

The Australian leg of Adele’s Live 2017 tour makes concert history after playing to more than 600,000 people over eight stadium dates.

The decade in live: 2017

Sziget Festival 2017 © László Mudra/Rockstar Photographers

In the biggest primary deal so far for the world’s largest secondary ticketing site, StubHub is named the official ticket seller for Rock in Rio 2017.

Creative Artists Agency increases its investment in the Chinese market via a new alliance with private equity firm CMC Capital Partners.

Luxury Ja Rule-backed boutique event, Fyre Festival, descends into chaos on its first day, with visitors to the Bahamas site comparing conditions to a refugee camp.

22 people, including children, lose their lives after a suicide bombing at Manchester Arena, for which Islamic State terror claims responsibility. The attack targets people leaving the 21,000-cap. venue at the end of an Ariana Grande concert.

Pandora Media announces the sale of Ticketfly to Eventbrite. Despite purchasing the company for $450m less than two years ago, it sells for a package worth $200m.

AEG invests in Immortals, one of the world’s leading esports teams, with professional players in the North American League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Super Smash Bros, Overwatch and Vainglory leagues. The team will now play their Los Angeles tournaments and matches at AEG’s LA Live entertainment district.

The organisers of ILMC announce the launch of the Event Safety and Security Summit (E3S), a one-day meeting focusing on security at live events.

The decade in live: 2017

The reality of Fyre Festival © Here_Comes_the_Kingz/Reddit

Helsinki-based Fullsteam Agency acquires Rähinä Live, whose roster includes some of Finland’s biggest hip-hop and pop artists.

Oak View Group, which counts Irving Azoff and Tim Leiweke among its founders, completes its acquisition of Pollstar, adding the US-based concert business magazine to its portfolio of trade titles.

Madison Square Garden Company makes a significant move into the esports sector by acquiring a controlling stake in Counter Logic Gaming.

Paradigm Talent Agency acquires Chicago- and California-based agency Monterey International, including its 14 agents and 200 acts.

Live Nation launches in Brazil with former Time for Fun (T4F) chief entertainment officer Alexandre Faria Fernandes at the helm.

Three quarters of staff at Function(x), the online business founded by former SFX Entertainment CEO Robert Sillerman, are effectively laid off, with the company telling investors it lacks the funds to pay them.

A sovereign wealth fund controlled by the government of Saudi Arabia, says it is forming a new SR10 billion ($2.7bn) investment vehicle in a bid to kick-start the kingdom’s entertainment sector.

Music returns to Manchester Arena as a capacity crowd turn out for We are Manchester, a benefit concert that raises funds for a memorial to the victims of the 22nd of May bombing.

The decade in live: 2017

The We are Manchester charity concert drew a full-capacity crowd at the 21,000-cap. arena © Showsec

A gunman kills 58 people and injures a further 546 at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival in Las Vegas. Local resident Stephen Paddock targeted the concertgoers from the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel.

WME-IMG rebrands as Endeavor, with company assets that include martial- arts promoter, UFC; ad agency, Droga5; Professional Bull Riders; the Miss Universe Organization; Frieze Art Fair; management companies, Dixon Talent and The Wall Group; and joint ventures such as Euroleague Basketball and esports championship ELEAGUE.

Ticketmaster confirms its long-rumoured expansion into Italy. The launch of Ticketmaster Italia, headquartered in Milan, follows the end of the exclusive long-term online partnership in Italy between Ticketmaster’s parent company, Live Nation, and CTS Eventim-owned TicketOne.

After 11 years in East London’s Victoria Park – now exclusive to AEG – Eat Your Own Ears’ Field Day Festival will head to Brockwell Park in South London. Live Nation’s Lovebox and Citadel are also rumoured to be moving to Brockwell Park.

Secondary ticketing websites will, from January 2018, be subject to stringent restrictions on their use of Google AdWords, as the search-engine giant cracks down on ticket resellers’ controversial use of its online advertising platform.

Leading self-service ticketer Eventbrite announces a series of new partnerships, rolling out integrations with events guide The List, festival package provider Festicket, word-of-mouth ticket sales platform Verve, and brand ambassador software Ticketrunner.

Michael Rapino, CEO of Live Nation Entertainment since 2010, will remain in his role until at least 2022 after signing a new five-year contract worth up to $9m per annum. Also re-upping are leading execs Kathy Willard, Michael Rowles and Joe Berchtold.

The decade in live: 2017

Primary Talent’s Dave Chumbley (1960-2017) picks up his Platinum Endurance Arthur Award at ILMC 25 © ILMC


Who we lost

Peter Rieger, founder of German promoter Peter Rieger Konzertagentur (PRK); Joseph Rascoff, business manager to the Stones, David Bowie, U2, Sting and more; ILMC’s long-time producer Alia Dann Swift; ShowSec International Ltd founder Mick Upton; Dave Chumbley, Primary Talent International director; Mary Cleary, former booker and tour manager; American singer-songwriter Tom Petty; pioneering concert promoter Shmuel Zemach, founder of Zemach Promotions; Australian country music promoter, agent and artist, Rob Potts; Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington; Reading festival founder Harold Pendelton; Washington, DC, promoter Jack Boyle; Live Nation Belgium booker Marianne Dekimpe; rock and roll pioneer Chuck Berry.


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